I just started my prep. with Sentence correction and was going through the Manhattan SC guide.I had a doubt regarding the following example :
Actual: If Chris and Jad met, they DISCUSSED mathematics.
Hypothetical: If Chris and Jad met, they WOULD DISCUSS mathematics.
Explanation : The first sentence could be said by someone who is unsure whether Chris and Jad have actually met: "If this did indeed happen, then that is the consequence." The second sentence, however, predicts the consequences of a hypothetical meeting of the two men: "If this were to happen, then that would be the consequence."
My query is are the above two sentences grammatically and structurally correct? Guys need your inputs. According to me, it should have been framed like this :
If Chris and Jad had met, they would have DISCUSSED mathematics.
I'm happy to help with this.
What's unusually about these examples is that they concern a past event. Most of the examples I have seen of this distinction has to do with the future, which admits of more uncertainty than does the past.
For example, I could say:
(1) If Chris and Jad meet tomorrow afternoon, they will discuss mathematics.
(2) If Chris and Jad meet tomorrow afternoon, they would discuss mathematics.
Sentence (1) has the connotation that the meeting, while uncertain, it likely to happen --- it is within the realm of expectation and would be no surprise to us if it took place. By contrast, Sentence (2) has the connotation that we really don't expect the meeting to take place --- it's an outside, win-the-lottery kind of chance that it could
happen, but we certainly don't expect it to happen.
It makes sense to discuss such a distinction in the future. I suppose one could discuss that situation in the past, but it seems unlikely to me, and certainly not something the GMAT would test. Sentence (1) & (2) represent a distinction that's not likely to appear on the GMAT, but it's fair game.
Theoretically, if there were a meeting planned yesterday, the possibility of Chris and Jad meeting, and we were expecting it to happen, and for whatever reason, we have absolutely no idea whether that meeting took place, then I suppose we could say:
(3) If Chris and Jad met yesterday, they DISCUSSED mathematics.
Similarly, if that meeting were possible but unlikely, and again, we have no access to information about whether or not it took place, then we would say:
(4) If Chris and Jad met, they WOULD DISCUSS mathematics.
Both of these are highly unlikely in our hyper-connected electronically interwoven world because, under how many circumstances in the modern world would a significant meeting take place yesterday and we would have no access to information about whether it happened. Unless we are talking about people meeting in wilderness areas in which there is absolutely no cell phone coverage, this is unrealistic.
The one you suggest:
(5) If Chris and Jad had met, they would have DISCUSSED mathematics.
is for the much more likely contrary-to-fact statement. We know for a fact that meeting did not take place, but we are speculating about what might have been.
Does all this make sense?
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